Posted November 2019
Throughout the history of rock and roll, there have been many notable artists who have not only expressed their faith but have also gone as far as recorded “gospel” albums or, at least, albums heavy with religious/spiritual themes.
In the 60’s and early 70’s, Elvis recorded His Hand In Mine, How Great Thou Art (the title song gave him his only Grammy), and You’ll Never Walk Alone). In the 70’s, Bob Dylan, B.J. Thomas, Dion, America’s Dan Peek, Grand Funk’s Mark Farner. In Country music, even more artists have recorded gospel albums.
In more recent years, other artists have proclaimed their faith by way of recording albums of faith. Journey keyboardist/songwriter, has recorded his second gospel album (third, if you count his Christmas album).
After Journey’s Knoxville concert last year, Jonathan and I talked backstage about (among other things) the yet-to-be-released album. He ran a couple of possible titles by me and asked my opinion as to which title I liked best. I gave my answer and we went on to discuss other things.
Fast forward to May of this year. The album lands. Different title. No offense was taken but I was curious what led Cain to the title he selected. So, he called me from his Florida home, and we finished our small talk, I led with that question.
“We decided to go with More Like Jesus just because of the song had gotten so much attention. You know, it was everybody's favorite song. And I just felt like it was a good statement to make, you know, in this crazy intolerant time we live in, you know.”
With the recent appointment of his wife, Pastor Paula White-Cain, as chair of President Trump’s evangelical advisory board, I posited that he and his wife are experiencing a certain amount of intolerance themselves. He replied:
“We sure are. But, you know, I think that's going to find a way for all of this to turn around. And I'm confident that going forward, that He'll (God) make a way.”
Paula’s background and current theological leanings are largely Charismatic/Pentecostal in nature, originating within the Cleveland, Tennessee, based Church of God. Jonathan is Catholic. I asked him what kind of synergies they had as a result of the differing spectrums of their faiths.
“You know, it's funny because she's more based on Scripture. Mine is more doctrine. But certainly, the common denominator is Jesus and the Holy Spirit. She is amused at my stories about the worshipping of Mother Mary. Growing up, she had no idea . . . (of) the Catholic doctrine. ‘You pray to Mary.’ May is Mary's month. We have all these prayers. She was fascinated with all of it. I'm a holy water guy; Rosary guy. I like incense, frankincense and myrrh. I go old school on her, you know? And she finds it fascinating. I shared with her the Latin that I used to sing - Gregorian chants and the high mass, the sort of ritual that mass was. It was very close to the Orthodox style, except it was in Latin.
“But it's nice to come from a background of the ancient beginnings of church and then to see where church has gone. The common denominator is, again, the teachings of Jesus Christ. And so, we both are completely respectful. And to me, it's fascinating that a fatherless child would find her true father, you know, at 19 years old. Her book is amazing, 'Something Greater'. I also have a song that I wrote about her story called ‘Something Greater’. If you get a chance, listen to it. It's on iTunes and Spotify.
faithfully for the last 35 years. It's remarkable that she wasn't allowed to preach in a pulpit. You know, women weren't allowed to preach in certain churches. And yet she was so successful and so bold. She just has a bold heart for the Lord. And that to me is just really, really attractive. You know, she finds my faith attractive. I find hers very attractive. So, we're sort of a sort of mutual fans of each other's.”“So, I just am really just a big fan of her evangelizing and her complete devotion to that kingdom work that she's done
When I commented on some of the beautiful liturgies and prayers that have been written by prominent Catholics throughout history, Cain concurred.
“You know, it's true. There's a whole legacy there, you know? And I pray that the church has vision and going forward.”
Then, circling back to the matter of church leanings, Jonathan added:
“You know, I'm sort of, you know, really probably more leaning towards what Church of God. I mean, I'm sort of in that realm myself. I don't feel that ‘Catholic’ anymore. But I respect the pastors that taught me; the sisters that were patient enough to work with me. So, it's like, ‘This is where you come from and this is good. I took Jesus very serious at a young age. I said my only community, my Holy Communion. It was like an out of body experience for me at eight years old. This was no passing thing. It was a serious thing. My father was a very, very prayerful man and led me that Jesus, a personal relationship with Christ. I owe my father so much when it comes to that.
“And, of course, me being a dad of three, I try to lead mine to a - I ended up at a Lutheran church with them and I found a good place for us for a while. I mean, once you're divorced, it's hard to come back, you know, because you're sort of outcast from the Catholic Church. No one has to ever become an outcast. I don't agree with that doctrine, but, you know, that's what it is.
To put a nice bow on that subject, Cain concluded:
“So, the reality is that that's your reality. At least I'm comfortable worshiping anywhere.”
Bringing the conversation back around to his new album, I asked Cain what the story behind it was.
“Well, More Like Jesus was written at the tail end of What God Wants To Hear. It was so bold and different than the other music on What God Wants to Hear that I decided I would make it a cornerstone for the new album and all the music seemed to be bold and confident. It was just sort of just very upbeat, intense in a lot of ways. Songs like Unleashed just have this joy and this confidence about them; as kingdom-minded music. I think in a lot of ways it's very kingdom minded.
“So, What God Wants To Hear is just kind of a first attempt at asking the Lord to lead me into a worship place, you know? And then, there was the confidence that came from the obedience that led me to this boldness on this second album. I'm really happy. Kingdom Come Down On Me - there's songs on this record that, to me are - Only in the Arms of Jesus - there's something for everyone. Every worshiper that is going through something, there's a song for everybody on this album.
“Ephesians 3:23 - 3:21, is my one of my favorite Scriptures. I saw it as a song unto Him and it just came out perfect. And looking back at the school fire (that took place when he was a youngster in school), I understood that ashes for beauty is a song. So, this song comes forth - 'Take These Ashes'.
“There's a song that’s on the album that's for women. I was asked to sing at the E Women's conference, and I couldn't find anything - a worship song that just really lifted up the heart of a woman. And then I ran into Proverbs. 'She's worth my far more than rubies.’ I was like, ‘Well, there it is'. So, I think there's something for everybody on this album. I mean, it's 14 songs. It's got quite a spectrum and there's probably fifteen or twenty places in the Word that you'll see where I landed. And I try to take a very kingdom-minded approach with this album.”
Jonathan says that response to the album has been great.
“People love it. I mean, I've been on iTunes and they say there's not a bad song on the album. ‘We like it'. And More Like Jesus is definitely a departure. Even my kids like it. It's a joyful song. It's progressive. It asks some questions about your faith and I think that it does it in a positive way. You have to prepare in your hearts. I mean, that's one thing everybody talks about Jesus' birth. Are you ready to prepare for Jesus? And I think that's one thing that I found, is that there's preparation that goes into it for sure.
“I just had a lot of hearts and a lot of a lot of new followers from it. People are digging on the album. They are buying it; they're playing the songs. I wish I could get some more people to write reviews, but I don't know if iTunes doesn't publish them or what.”
As for new music coming down the pike:
“I wrote a song about my wife's book, Something Greater. We dropped that. And then the new Christmas single is coming at the end of the month, Wonder of Wonders. So, there's two more songs for me and next year, there will be another new single. So, I'm going to go on the single thing for a while.”
Which song on the new album would Cain point to as its calling card?
“You know, to me, I would have to say Unleashed. It's a great place to go because it is sort of a kingdom minded worship song in a way. We can go to a place where we become unleashed; that we will be totally free; that through worship we would find true freedom. And I think that truly is the spirit of this album.
When I asked if there wasn’t going to be a Christmas album in the offing, Jonathan said:
“Well, I dropped Unsung Noel and it kind of just disappeared as quickly as I put it out. I feel that it I feel like it's time to try that thing out again. We're going to give it another look; give it another listen. It's deep. Its 14 songs deep. There's a lot of songs on there. I wrote 10 original Christmas songs. So, I don't know if there is a worship album with ten original Christmas songs. I doubt it. I dare you to find one, okay? Ha! Ha! That's producing a lot in one setting. I think that speaks for what I feel. But Wonder of Wonders belongs right along with the things I wrote on Unsung Noel. The melody is very catchy. And once again, we look at the miracles of the Nativity and we consider that Christ is the heart of Christmas and that is a wonder. It looks at the miracle of what the Nativity actually represents for all of us.”
Journey will embark on a stadium tour next year (see the itinerary here). I asked Cain what else was his radar in the next year or so.
“Well, Paula and I have a daily show we minister on together on Daystar - Paula Today with Paula White-Cain. I'm having fun with her getting in that lane and doing the preparation to ministering together. Certainly, I play a lot of music when she ministers, I'm usually present on the piano, keyboard in some way.
“We have a project coming called ‘Prayer Glories’. I recorded my Christmas album - a live version of Unsung Noel at New Destiny, and we're excited to finally put that out and release it. There's a possible Amazon Prime situation that might happen. I think I'm working on that angle. More video. There's a prayer piano worship I got I'm also going to be releasing next year where I'm just playing free form worship music on the piano. There's that, too.”
You can order More Like Jesus, Jonathan’s other solo work and his autobiography by clicking on the album icons below. You can also keep up with Jonathan at his website, JonathanCainMusic.com.